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Research Areas

Our research interests and activities are clustered within four broad and overlapping programme areas and two established interdisciplinary themes. For further details, please see below.

Higher Education

Research within this programme area examines the nature of change in higher education in the UK and internationally, and draws on a range of methodological, critical, theoretical, historical, and comparative perspectives. We are particularly interested in the dynamics of globalisation and internationalisation in higher education and assessing the ways in which transnational policies and metrics influence policies and practices in national contexts (and vice versa).

Our research to date has focused on several interdependent perspectives, from the critical analysis of policy documents and discourse to exploring how both students, academics, and other stakeholders, experience and negotiate the university landscape. We have a broad domestic and international commitment towards widening participation and social justice, as well as a focus on higher education pedagogy, academic identity and practice within the frameworks of institutional and sector wide change. We welcome enquiries from colleagues and potential research students for collaboration or guest presentations in relation to these areas.


Dr Catherine O’Connell (co-ordinator), Dr Babs AndersonAssoc. Prof Phil Bamber, Sophia Deterala (PhD student), Dr Cathal O’SiochruDr Namrata RaoDr Frank SuDr Konstanze SpohrerDr Olga Ververi

Education for Advantage

This research area takes a broad interest in teacher education, education leadership, practice and professional formation. There is sustained exploration of the research-practice nexus and processes of knowledge mobilisation.

We represent a range of approaches in connecting teaching research and practice, particularly in areas experiencing multiple deprivations. Research interests include areas of school leadership, professional ethics, values education, digitisation and the future of school, refugee and migrant education, EAL and further adult/community education. 

A particular focus is the Hope Challenge, which supports the work of Local Authorities and HMIs by working with schools in socioeconomic challenging circumstances and those judged as requiring improvement, across secondary, primary and special schools. We are working proactively with Local Authorities, regional HMIs and schools to lead North West collaboration with the aim of improving the life chances of children. For the purposes of the Hope Challenge Programme - schools in socioeconomic circumstances are deemed to be those where Pupil Premium is at least 25%. 


Assoc. Prof Phil Bamber (co-ordinator), Assoc. Prof Alan HodkinsonMrs Sue CroninMrs Lynn Sampson-ChappelDr Daniel O’Neil, Andrea Bullivant

Citizenship, Social Cohesion and Social Change

This key themes of this programme are belonging, character and social inclusivity, framed within contexts of class and race, gender and nation. Particular foci include fundamental British Values, as articulated in policies designed to educate instill belonging and character in national and international contexts. 

The programme has an important and ongoing strand on ‘fundamental British values’ (Prof. Ian Stronach, Dr Joseph Maslen) that attempts to analyse the evolving theory and practice of citizenship and identity education in contemporary Britain. The programme also seeks to interrogate languages of inequality (Dr Joseph Maslen, Dr Konstanze Spohrer) via a critical discourse analysis of the contested concepts of fairness in education. These incorporate the politics of social mobility and widening participation, as well as the trend towards character- and resilience-driven education policies in underachieving parts of the UK. 


Dr Joseph Maslen (co-ordinator), Dr Konstanze Spohrer (co-ordinator), Dr Babs AndersonAssoc. Prof Phil BamberDr Jody CrutchleyAssoc. Prof Alan HodkinsonDr Carly BagelmanDr Ella HoustonAssoc. Prof David LundieDr Harriet Pattison

Philosophy, Education, and Society Research

Researchers contributing to the Philosophy, Education, and Society strand of CEPA activity draw on a diverse range of philosophical and empirical sources, including not only classic and contemporary texts but also film, art, and literature, and current projects range from foundational inquiry into the ethics of influence to post-critical exploration of the experience of raising children. 

Liverpool Hope is also home to the North West branch of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, which also hosts a series of seminars throughout the year. CEPA members working in the field of philosophy of education are internationally recognised in their field and have an active and ambitious schedule of research-related activity scheduled for the coming year.


Dr Naomi Hodgson (Convenor), Assoc. Prof David LundieDr John Tillson

Fundamental British Values

One of CEPA’s main areas of research is on fundamental British Values in education policy and practice.

This strand sits within our Citizenship, Social Cohesion and Social Change programme and brings together interdisciplinary perspectives from across a number of fields. These include:

  • Politics and Contemporary History (Joseph Maslen),
  • Literary and Critical Theory (Alan Hodkinson, Ian Stronach),
  • Early Childhood and Special Educational Needs (Babs Anderson, Ella Houston, Harriet Pattison), as well as
  • Religion and Values (Philip Bamber and David Lundie) and
  • Sociological and Political Theory (Zaki Nahaboo)

Members of the team have presented their research at several high-profile events, including a plenary session of the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, undertaken as part of CEPA’s ongoing Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Illinois. Papers published by members can be found in, among others, the Journal of Education Policy, the British Journal of Educational Studies, and as a special issue of the International Review of Qualitative Inquiry.


Dr Babs AndersonAssoc. Prof Phil BamberAssoc. Prof Alan HodkinsonDr Ella HoustonAssoc. Prof David LundieDr Joseph MaslenDr Harriet Pattison

Pathologies of Professionalism

Several CEPA members, alongside colleagues elsewhere in - and outside - the University, are researching issues surrounding the pathological/professional in academic and other professional spheres. 

We have presented at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry at the University of Illinois, which included the performatively presented a courtroom drama, putting ‘the professional’ on trial and giving the audience the casting vote. This formed part of CEPA’s ongoing Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Illinois.

Within this, we are holding a one-day event colloquium: Pathologies of Professionalism in Higher Education. Academic professionalism is often seen as in crisis, facing increased competition, precarity, curbs to freedom of expression, and new modes of accountability and audit. What kinds of professionalism can survive these conditions of academic precarity? The ‘real’ economy is a growing factor in redefining professionalism in UK Higher Education. In this colloquium, attendees will be seeking to develop the new concepts and theories we need to express these contemporary dilemmas.


Dr Frank Su, Dr Catherine O'Connell, Dr Namrata Rao, Dr Joseph Maslen, Dr Cathal O'SiochruAssoc. Prof Alan Hodkinson